This is part 6 of a 6-part series that looks at the main steps in inner work exercises, explains why each is important and provides some tips for increasing one’s skills with each step.
While the experience you have and the wisdom you find during an inner work exercise may be relieving, compelling or fascinating, what you do with that learning or message after is just as important. This is where integration comes into play. Integrating what you discover in an inner work process into your everyday life is the final challenge in applying what you have discovered.
Integration is making your learning a living aspect of who you are. It is taking a seed or sprout you find in the inner work exercise, transplanting it carefully and supporting it to take root in you.
How do you integrate what you have found? For each person, the answer to this question may be different. For some, finding the strength or flexibility to move into less familiar or less comfortable parts of themselves may be important. On the other hand, using your awareness in your daily life more consciously or intentionally may be what is needed. For others, integration will be a process of letting go of intentionality itself and following spontaneous impulses more closely. And for some, integration will be simply noticing how the quality or message you found is already alive in you.
Integration is building a bridge to a new way of being, a new quality or point of view. A bridge helps you access new territory – new territory in you! Many inner work exercises will conclude with a question or prompt meant to help you relate in an ongoing way to what you have experienced. Here are some suggestions to help you with the integration of what you have learned, the wisdom or message you received:
- Take the message, the learning, what you have found seriously. That is, resist the urge (if it occurs) to minimize or dismiss your experience.
- Ask yourself, “how or where is this experience already occurring in my life?”
- Notice when you catch yourself naturally following your new learning. Take time be present to it. One way to do this is to notice what you are experiencing in each of your senses.
- If the inner work exercise asks you to draw or write something (to anchor your experience), you might hold on to that drawing or writing for a few days or more, and put it somewhere where you can reflect on it.
- In the hours or days following the inner work exercise, take time to actively recall aspects of your inner work experience and let yourself re-create, re-connect with and experience whatever you are aware of.
- Take the felt experience or state of mind from your inner work with you into your everyday life. See if you can relate to your world (family/home, co-workers/job, play/hobbies, or other areas of your life) from that state or experience just a little bit.
- If your inner work prescribes an activity, attitude or action, try it! Experiment and see what you learn. Be willing to be surprised!
If you do enough inner work, you may come to recognize themes in the learning you are attempting to integrate. This is a good sign. It means your inner process is expressing itself in varied ways at different moments and central issues or opportunities for growth and change are emerging. And as you integrate your learning, new processes may arise.